Afraid RIT might be too difficult? Don’t be! RIT has your back.

by Anthony Gutierrez, Mechanical Engineering ME student

Students have a variety of resources available to them during their time at RIT. Once you start your program, each department has a Welcome Meeting, in which not only they welcome you to RIT and your Master’s Program, but also give you all the tools and resources you might need during your journey.

Advisors frequently refer students to the following RIT resources:

Academic Support Center at RIT: The mission of this center is to assist and empower students to achieve academic success by academic coaching; individual and group tutoring; workshops; classes; and presentations that help develop the necessary skills to achieve your academic goals. Feel free to check out their website for more information.

Wallace Center: Home to the Wallace Library, the Writing Commons, and the RIT American Sign Language and Deaf Studies Community Center (RADSCC), is centrally located on campus and a perfect space for study, collaboration, and relaxation.  With a schedule of open 24 hours during weekdays and 12 hours during weekends, The Wallace Center is the perfect place to do all your homework and research. For more information about all the resources offered by the Wallace Center (like borrowing a laptop, books, calculators, etc.)

University Writing Commons: The RIT Writing Commons provides writing support for students of all levels and in all disciplines. With a staff by of professional writing consultants and undergraduate peer writing consultants from various disciplines, they provide both individualized and group feedback and guidance on academic and professional writing at any stage of the writing process. Writing consultants can support a variety of writing projects, from research papers to lab reports. Feel free to check out their website for more information.

Teaching Assistant (TA): A teaching assistant or teacher’s aide (TA) is an individual who assists a teacher with instructional responsibilities. Usually these individuals are students who already took the class and did very well on it. Their job is not only to grade your homework, but also help you with any doubts about the class. Think about this: what better person to help you with a class than someone who already took it and did very well on it?

Professor’s office hours: RIT has a policy in which they state that each professor must offer office hours outside from the regular class hours, so they can offer a more individual orientation in any doubts the students might have. At the beginning of each semester, all of your professors will give the schedule of their office hours so you can know what time you can go and ask all your questions. Although these office hours have a limited time frame, most of the professor have an open door policy, which means that you can go to their offices and ask your questions any time you want.

Student Banking – What you need to know

by Krishna Tippur Gururaj, Computer Science MS student

A bank account is essential for a student. Whether it is about getting that little bit of extra money from your parents that you need for a weekend trip, or tuition fees from your sponsor, or for managing your own salary, one always needs a bank account or two.

Major American banks like Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase are popular choices. The former has a branch located in South Town Plaza (a mile away from campus), and an ATM in the Gordon Field House. The latter has a branch located about 2 miles from campus. There is no ATM on campus however with a car, it is quite accessible. The other convenient option is Advantage Federal Credit Union bank. Its branch is located on campus and there are multiple ATMs across campus.

In Bank of America, the checking account has a zero-balance requirement for students under the age of 24. For others, the monthly maintenance fee of $12 can be waived by having at least one qualifying direct deposit of $250 or more made to the account each month. If this is not done, the bank expects that a minimum of $1500 be maintained in the account each day (a grace period of 60 days in the beginning). For more information regarding this and other fees, read here. 

In Chase, the checking account has a zero-balance requirement for students between the ages of 17 and 24. For others, the monthly maintenance fee of $6 can be waived by having one direct deposit made to the account each month. If this is not done, the bank expects a balance of $5000 to be maintained every day. For more information regarding this and other fees, check here.

In Advantage Federal Credit Union, the checking account has a zero-balance requirement with no restrictions on a student’s age. The fact that the branch and ATMs are located on campus make this bank quite an attractive and affordable option. However, the limitation with this is that since it is a credit union, its presence is local so there would be no ATMs if you go out of Rochester.

All banks would have the concept of a savings account as well. They are used to store money safely (cannot be withdrawn/used from a debit card) and earn interest on it. Check with the bank for the various options that they offer. Usually, you would need to make one transaction to/from the savings account to keep it active and free of any maintenance fee.

Opening an account in any of the banks is simple and fast. As an international student, on my first day in the US, it took me 20 minutes to get my account created in Bank of America. All they needed were my passport and I-20 (to ascertain that I was indeed a student). A Social Security Number is not mandatory to open the account; it can be updated in the bank once obtained later.

In my experience till now, I have found that using Bank of America is the most convenient option considering all factors since the branch is not too far to visit if need be, and an ATM is located on campus. When I am not earning enough from the on-campus job to be able to qualify for a waiver of the monthly maintenance fee, I just maintain $1500 in my account. I treat that as a safety net for emergencies.

Credit scores are an important part of a person’s life in the US. They are checked when you buy a phone plan, rent a house, buy a car, etc. As an international student, this was an alien concept to me. Credit cards, if used well, are a good way of building a good credit score. There are firms like Credit Karma which help individuals plan their credit card usage as well as possible to reflect positively on credit reports.

Applying for a credit card from Chase or Bank of America is quite straightforward although getting one may be random if one has no prior credit history. Advantage Federal Credit Union does not offer credit cards. There are some companies like Discover which offer credit cards to students on attractive offers; you would not need to open any separate bank account with them. Credit cards also offer cashback or rewards for using them. Ask your bank representative about all possible options while applying.